College Academic Performance and Attitudes towards College Educational Experiences

College Academic Performance and Attitudes towards College Educational Experiences: Differences between Private and Public High School Leadership, Curriculum and Teacher Requirements.

Introduction (about 6 pages)

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            There are a wide range of contributing factors that dictate how students will response to the transition from High School to college, one major influence has to do with the discrepancies in the curriculums between private and public High school education.  Chairperson of the Department of Education at Rutgers University, in her essay From Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work Jean Anyon analyzes this very concept of underprivileged education. Anyon argues that different levels of educations are available to young people  depending on their social class. This mostly applies to schools in different districts and social communities and it can particularly be seen in the difference between private and public schooling.  To make the concept clear, she further applies this to a description of a kind of mental segregation happening within the classroom; in which, students sitting side by side are rewarded differently solely based on their socioeconomic standing in the community.  She does this by stating,

…students in different social-class backgrounds are rewarded for classroom behaviors that correspond to personality traits allegedly rewarded in the different occupational strata – the working classes for docility and obedience, the managerial classes for initiative and personal assertiveness. (Anyon, 1980)

An example of Anyon’s theory at work is the fact that project based learning prepares students for more open-minded assessment, and prepares them to handle real world situations better than textbook learning, but it is most prevalent in private and high income community public schools. Project based learning is a long lived tradition of learning through the implementation of field trips, labs, investigations and other projects.  It is considered to be an American tradition, as well as a substantial method of teaching.  The premise backing this form of learning revolves around the idea that students will be more liable to gain interest in curriculum that they can correspond to their surroundings.  Solely studying the work in a text can become mundane and arbitrary for to the student. Anyon points out that the majority of contemporary textbook instruction is designed for the working class when she analyzes elementary and secondary classroom curriculums.  She finds a methodology very different from what is inherent in Project based education.  The methodology itself is a concept of much study, but the main purpose of both PBL and its method inherently is to create the ultimate learning community, for the classroom.  These programs are usually not supported in public schools because of the amount of funding they require.  This discrepancy is often found in the relationship between public schools located near high income houses and low income houses.

            Jonathan Kozol describes the discrepancies between these two types of schooling in and interview done with him by Marge Scherer.  In the interview titled, On Savage Inequalities: A Conversation with Jonathan Kozol, he talks about his experience in St. Louis and how the schools in low income areas barely had enough funding for water, while the schools down the street, in the wealthier districts could afford advanced school supplies as well as project based learning assignments, like field trips.  Kozol denotes this problem to the use of property tax to fund schools. He says,

we ought to finance the education of every child in America equitably, with adjustments made only for the greater or lesser needs of certain children. And that funding should all come from the collective wealth of our society, mainly from a steeply graduated progressive income tax. (Kozol)

It is a tax like this that could fund more project based learning in schools, which would be the most influential step to improving classroom education..  The common practice of dissecting animals and insects has become an American tradition and almost a right of passage in high school, and it is also and example of PBL.  It is clear to see that Project Based Management has a dramatically influential effect on the education of our country, so why isn’t it the only method used? There are many weaknesses involved with this method.  The use of chaperones, instructional tools, and often methods of transportation are often required.  People tend to remember more from their field trips than their other lessons.  Many of the projects and labs involve authentic assessment and this is a positive aspect. But since authentic assessment is also congruent with, and dependent on, the student’s background, the projects can result in the isolation of certain students.  This depends on how familiar the students are with the particular authentic topics being assessed.  Studying wild life out in a park, might not be beneficial to the interests of a student living in an inner city.

            There are many theories published on the source of inadequacies within the education system, that all attempt to explain, student lack of focus, leadership, as well misrepresentation within the class room. As noted in Karyn J Boatwright and Rhonda K. Egidio’s article Psychological Predictors of College Women’s Leadership Aspirations, “Women are notably more prone to managing leadership postitions in the college as well as work arean”  She atributes this finding to the fact that women are communal where as men are agentic. Meaning that men are serve as mediators for the progress of the community where as mean are driven to compete. Despite this fact, in a study done by Georgia Southern University the connection between depression and college academic performance were compared, and it was found that women are more prone to depression in situation where they are subject to intense prejudice, such as the male dominated work force. The author goes on to note that, “A recent surge in interest surrounding spirituality has occurred within the context of American higher education (2005).” In addition to a spiritual void which these theorist attribute to a lack of leadership in both the High school and collegiate levels of the education system, there exists the factor of comprehension in education which can be traced the reader response theory.

Reader response theory stresses the importance of the role of the reader in interpreting texts. It disagrees that there is a solitary, fixed meaning integral to every literary work. This theory embraces that an individual creates his or her own meaning through a “transaction” with the text based on personal associations. Because all readers bring their own emotions, concerns, life experiences, and knowledge to their reading, each interpretation is subjective and unique. It is common that many people trace the foundation of reader-response theory to scholar Louise Rosenblatt’s influential 1938 work Literature as Exploration. She believed, close readings of literature should practice impassiveness in the study of texts and should reject all forms of personal interpretation by the reader. The text is an independent entity that could be objectively analyzed using unambiguous methodological criteria (Rosenblatt’s, 1938).  Her work has been the topic of study for many professors and theorists who specialize in this form of analysis.

The majority of these reader response theorists influenced by Rosenblatt, are broken down into three groups: those who focus on the individual reader experience, those who conduct psychological experiments on a specific group of readers, and those who assume all readers respond the same.  The main conflict within this theory is between those who believe the individual is key to interpretation and those who believe he is irrelevant.  This gives rise to different forms of reader-response criticisms and different methods in which they are used.   Most people who object to reader response theory feel it argues that the text is irrelevant.  U.S. Weekly and The Source are proving that this is an argument that may be more correct than one might want to believe.

Let My Teenager Drink is an essay by T.R. Reid, in which he argues the detrimental effect laws against alcohol have on American youth culture.  He argues that requiring young people to be at least 21 before legally allowing them to drink alcohol is basically encouraging them to drink in unsafe circumstances.  He justifies this by comparing American drinking laws to the laws in other countries, and by giving examples of his experiences with American youth. He reveals the popular term for binge drinking among American teens to be the term pre-gaming. This is a form of power drinking for the sole pursuit of getting drunk before social activities.  It is a common occurrence on many college campuses, and Reid points that pre-gaming is usual done in the shadiest places.  Some common locations for young people to pre-game is in dark alleyways, in cars, and behind dumpsters.  Reid bases the majority of his information on his own credibility as a member of The Washington Post.  His argument does lack much needed and valuable statistics.  Reid sums up the key issues of his argument with a question to the reader.  In the United States, our kids learn that drinking is something to be done in the dark, and quickly.  Is that the lesson we want to teach them about alcohol (Reid, pg92)?

Statement of the problem (a half page)

In her essay, Some Musing on “Higher Education”, Rebecca Phillips makes a personal critique on the collegiate education through her own class experience.  She likens college students to zombies, based on an experience where she notices her fellow students are moderately attentive in class. “As our society has become more materialistic, a new desperation for spiritual fulfillment has been evident (Rogers & Dantley).” The focus on materialism in combination with a lack of spiritual, or character development has subjected students in the Western World to an educational system that is as capitalistically minded as they are.

It is becoming a popular belief that private and public sector schools and curriculums should be merged together.  The job of equalizing the discrepancies between these two forms of education was once deemed the responsibility of the standardized test. Traditional standardized testing in our country, once used to asses one’s calculative ability, is now being replaced, starting at the middle school level, with a format that revolves around authentic assessment. Authentic assessment is the direct evaluation of student performance through tasks that exercise their intellect.  These evaluations tend to exercise their: creativity, listening and comprehension skills, experimental research in science, speaking and discussion skills and historical inquiry.  It largely corresponds with standardized testing, which means it eventually will be used in all schools across the nation to identify the intellectual elite.

Variables of the study (about 1 page)

The variables involved in this study are multifaceted and stem from the educational system as a whole. For starters the caliber of instruction by teachers is a variable, and ultimately is reliant on the quality of education the teachers receive when they are students transitioning from High School to college and then the graduate level.  Socioeconomic factors are a variable, because they ultimately dictate whether student will be enrolled in a public or private education. Community factors represent a variable because they have a lasting effect on the spiritual development of the student. Just because one might grow up in an impoverished region of the country does not necessarily mean they will be deprived of community sanctioned resources to develop needed discipline and leadership skills that can carry over into their academic performance.  Likewise, schools able to capitalize on state or federal funded programs can provide the extracurricular interest necessary to help students located in inner city areas to avoid social pitfalls, like involvement in gangs, teen pregnancy and other issues that tend to be of less concern for private school students.

Statement of the purpose (about 1 page)

Significance of the study (about 1 page)

            The quality of education within communities, counties, city-wide, statewide, as well as nationwide has always been a major concern for debate. Politicians, partisan and bi-partisan alike run on the premise that they can improve the quality education in the country, through the increase of funding for education, or providing more grants for college students. President George Bush’s popular “No Child Left Behind” program garnered a lot of ink in newspapers as well as Scholarly journals on education. Likewise, President Barack Obama has taken on similar feats imposing a new grant provision for unemployed parents to go back to college for retraining to gain more employable skills.

            When addressing the discrepancies shared between private and public education in the Western world, one does not just take on the differences but the burden of progressing an entire nation and what it takes at its very core to do so.  All innovations in industry and the very essence of capitalism starts first with education and the quality of that education can be measured in the potency of a nations industrial success. While global corporations ultimately will find a way to compete at the highest level, employing the workers that ft their progressive agendas, the quality of education in the west will in turn dictate whether the top companies of a nation are forced outsource or employ from within their borders.

Research questions and hypotheses (about 2 pages)

It is a widely shared belief among education theorists that a universal curriculum should be equally distributed throughout the nation, and that this curriculum should be similar to the elite executive curriculum, which Jean Anyon identifies as the basic education provided by private schools as well as the best education Western Society has to offer.  The question this poses is that with this seemingly elite curriculum set as the standard would it create a more competitive playing field for students, and ultimately aspiring workers, further dividing the social classes, or will it lead to a society with a more integrated socioeconomic structure?

The key argument  of this research is that academic curriculums nationwide need to be targeted more towards the developing authentic assessment skills in students by the closing out of the High School level., in order for their to be a universal quality of quality authentic assessment poses is that for the traditional testing method, the right answers are not rationales.  While Anyon argues that today’s working class curriculums center more around whether students answers follow instructions than whether they are correct, this basically acknowledges that the level of logic required for traditional standardized tests is lacking.  Either way, if students are subject to the exact same nationwide testing, it is only just that they receive the exact same form of education.  The risk involved in equally distributing the same type of elite education, which Anyon describes is that not everyone can manage the corporation some have to do the work.

Limitations of the study (about 1 page)

            The ultimate goal of the education system is to prepare students the for the transition into the workforce and produce contributing members of society.  While the ideal system would be able to prepare a student regardless of their upbringing or social class, the reality is that socioeconomic factors serve as a major obstacle in the way of many students. Initially there are socioeconomic limitations that are applied to all school levels across communities as whole.  As noted in the Kozol’s interview, without the adequate supplies and funding for things like project based learning, early on within the K-12 levels, students can not realistically be expected to develop the authentic assessment skills comparable with those of the executive curriculums that Anyon refers to in her works. Likewise, a strong foundation in character, moral aptitude and the development of leaderships skills which come common with team oriented pursuits in private school curriculums, if too pricey to be applied to the public school agenda, might deprive students of forming those leadership qualities that tend to carryover into their college years.

Basic assumptions (a half page)

A basic assumption that comes with this study, as well as most dealing with educational issues has to do with the preconceived notion that it is the sole responsibility of High School to prepare students for college, and in turn for College to prepare the student for the workforce.  While leadership characteristics and Students response to curriculum as well as cultural surroundings, and the quality of instructions are all significant factors in this circumstance, many times we forget to place some responsibility on institutions to meet the student halfway in their transition. An example of this can be seen with the case of the multinational corporation TATA Consultancy Services of India (TCS), and their recent building of an Offshore IT software outsourcing HUB in China has set an example for international businesses and the integrations of cultures within management.  Their India Branch is recognized s one of the major IT providers of that region. In 2006 TCS first announced their Global Network Delivery Model (GNDM) (Geok & Buche, 2008).  despite the fact that TCS is a corporation launched out of India, by “February 2007 of the more than 800 consultants and project managers employed by TCS, 90 percent were local Chinese staff (Wee Beng Geok & Ivy Buche, 2008)” This resulted from a presence that TCS had established in Chinese college campuses to line itself with the educational system in the area.  Through collaborating with local universities TCS was able to setup programs for research and development which in turn served as a source for a well trained and educated employee base, which the company tapped thoroughly.  The students also benefited from his relationship TCS shared with the universities as, “Seminars were conducted at many leading schools on topics such as Six Sigma, CMMi and Open Source, which were not taught as part of the regular curricula. The company also sponsored students and faculty to conduct research at its R&D centre in India (Wee Beng Geok & Ivy Buche, 2008).”  When this many of these students graduated top in their class from their universities it was only a natural transition for them to become members of the TCS staff.

            Here we see an example that counters the basic assumption of how students should be educated. As opposed to education for the purpose of transitioning into the workforce, the industry actually embedded itself in the education process and developed well trained students. The key component of this business model that should not be overlooked is how TCS integrated itself within the lives and culture of the region it was based, this act mutually benefited both the corporation and the community.  This is the epitome of Project Based hands on learning and the production of authentic assessment skills.

Definitions of terms (about 2 pages)

Authentic Assessment- Is a form of assessment where students are expected to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of critical knowledge and skills.  The student’s performance on a task is scored on a rubric to determine how successfully the student has met specific standards.

Relational Leadership Model – A relatively new term in the leadership literature that stems from Relational Leadership Theory (RLT) as an overarching framework for the study of leadership.  It represents the study of the values influences and evolving changes of leaderships as an ideology.


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, pp. 653-669 (Article)

Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press

How Does Education Support the Formation and Establishment of Individual Identities?


Latchem, Johannah


International Journal of Art & Design Education; v25 n1 p42-52 Feb 2006




This article examines how education could support the formation and establishment of identities. It focuses on museum education and in particular artist interrogations of museum narratives. These interventions into museum pedagogy are critical reworkings of the presentation of cultural histories in dominant narratives. The aim of this research is to examine the consequences of these interventions for pedagogy in the museum site, when linear narratives are subject to reconstruction by individual agencies. The complexities of museum pedagogy are revealed and analysed in order to identify models of teaching and learning that are inclusive. The work of Fred Wilson, artist and curator of an installation project at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore, USA, is applied to explore notions of cultural capital and cultural empowerment through education in the museum. Throughout the article is concerned with investigating how the individual subject is formed and informed through the narrative. Analogies are drawn with the view that the curriculum may not be a neutral and objective selection of knowledge and that in the same way it is worth investigating this claim to enquire whether institutional presentations of history are equally subjective. If museum education projects are set by curators and education officers to meet certain curriculum requirements then there must be questions raised about the structure of narratives and the process by which they are disseminated. This article is an exploration of these actions with far-reaching applications, to ascertain whether they can successfully promote social justice in education and empower the individual or whether they serve to polarize essentialism and multiculturalism.

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